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a forum for ideas, opinions, and strategies on justice policy and practice

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Apr 30, 2014 In 2012, the number of patients with severe mental illness in prisons and jails was ten times the number in state psychiatric hospitals. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing entitled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety.” Led by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin, it featured the verbal testimony of...
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Apr 29, 2014 Vera’s Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB) project has two main audiences for its work. One is a technical audience, including legislative, policy, budget and fiscal analysts, researchers, evaluators, criminologists, and others in similar or related professions. For these readers, the forest is important, but the trees are more their thing. The other audience is interested in the big picture and the policy ramifications at hand, with...

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Apr 22, 2014 New Orleans residents are detained in jail, especially pretrial, at significantly higher rates than people in other U.S. cities. Though the rate has been steadily decreasing, New Orleans still locally detains roughly 475 per 100,000 residents while the national urban average is about 250 per 100,000. Louisiana state law allows for a person to be detained up to 60 days while the prosecutor decides whether or not to file charges, which, combined with the...
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Apr 17, 2014 For more than 40 years—since Richard Nixon declared drugs the enemy in the early 1970s and continuing through the “War on Drugs” of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s—state and federal governments have zeroed in on drug enforcement, treating drug offenders in an increasingly harsh manner. In a new report—Drug War Détente? A Review of State-level Drug Law Reform, 2009-2013—Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections reveals that states have begun to scale back...

Apr 15, 2014 A few years ago, I met a young girl, “Denise,” who told me that her uncle had repeatedly raped her since she was eight. To stop the endless abuse, Denise said, she deliberately got pregnant by another man. Her plan worked. The uncle did stop raping her, but by that time, she was a mother at 15. Sadly, I did not meet Denise at a support group for incest survivors or a special high school program for teen mothers. I met Denise in a Delaware detention center...

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Apr 11, 2014 Analysis of new data from the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights—collected from each of the nation’s 97,000 public schools—paints a troubling picture of unequal access to preschool, disparate teacher pay and quality, and students unprepared for college and a career. For far too many students, success in school is still out of reach. Further, and most relevant to Vera’s work, children and youth of color are more likely to be...

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Apr 9, 2014 On Tuesday night, Vera held its eight annual benefit, Our Youth – Our Future, and honored Bryan Stevenson and David Fein for their significant contributions to improving our justice systems. Following opening remarks by Vera Board Chairman John Savarese, Vera President Nick Turner asked the audience to imagine what the room would look like if a third of its occupants were absent. If current incarceration rates continue, he said, that is the future in...

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